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United States v. LaPoint

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division

May 1, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARMAGNE C. LAPOINT, Defendant

For U.S. Probation, Interested Party: uspNotify, LEAD ATTORNEY.

For Charmagne C LaPoint, Defendant: Bradley Ryan Hansen, LEAD ATTORNEY, Federal Public Defender's Office, Sioux City, IA.

For USA, Plaintiff: Jamie D Bowers, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, Sioux City, IA.

OPINION

Page 1007

MARK W. BENNETT, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PARTIES' RULE 11(c)(1)(C) PLEA AGREEMENT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION

II. ANALYSIS

A. Rule 11(c)(1)(C) Standards

B. Discussion

III. CONCLUSION

This case is before me following defendant Charmagne LaPoint's (LaPoint's) initial sentencing hearing, which occurred on March 26, 2014. LaPoint entered into an agreement with the Government, under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), in which she pleaded guilty to one count of mail theft by a Postal Service employee, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1709. The parties agreed to a sentence of probation, plus restitution. At LaPoint's sentencing hearing, I expressed reservations about accepting the plea agreement because a sentence of probation--the low end of LaPoint's Guidelines range--fails to account for the non-monetary harm caused by her crime. I asked the parties to brief whether I could reject the plea agreement based on a policy disagreement with the theft guideline. After reviewing the parties' briefs, I reject their plea agreement, but for reasons other than a policy disagreement with the theft guideline.

Page 1008

I. INTRODUCTION

LaPoint pleaded guilty to one count of mail theft by a Postal Service employee, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1709, as part of a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement. In the agreement, LaPoint stipulated to stealing approximately 40 pieces of mail in 2013 while working as a Post Master Relief in Wesley, Iowa. She targeted mail that appeared to contain greeting cards and would steal any cash enclosed with the cards. LaPoint would then rip up the cards and throw them away at the post office or her home. In addition to cash, LaPoint stole six gift cards and a laptop computer from the mail. All told, LaPoint admitted to stealing money and property worth $1,294.95 and agreed to pay that amount in restitution.

The plea agreement does not tell the whole story, however. A statement from one of LaPoint's victims, an intended card recipient, reveals significant non-monetary harm caused by LaPoint's crime. The victim never received sympathy cards regarding her father, and could not thank those who sent their condolences, because LaPoint had torn the cards up. Because of LaPoint, the victim lost trust in the Postal Service, stopped mailing packages to her son in the military, and began traveling to neighboring cities to drop off her mail. Moreover, while the record contains only one victim impact statement, the record supports the fact that LaPoint deprived other victims--the other intended card recipients--of the support, condolences, and congratulations offered in the myriad types of greeting cards that LaPoint destroyed.

In light of these facts, I must determine whether to accept or reject the parties' Rule ...


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